MBAs today: More popular, more flexible, more diverse
UK business schools receive the most international applications. Source: Facebook/@ManchesterMBS

Are MBAs still relevant in this era of self-made celebrity entrepreneurs?

Turns out they are. Demand for the MBA is as strong as ever, though delivery methods are steadily changing, according to the latest MBA Application and Enrolment Report from the Association of MBAs (AMBA).

Applications and enrolments grew two percent and one percent respectively in 2017 compared with the previous year. This is a reverse of the small decline seen between 2011 and 2016.

Will Dawes, Research and Insight Manager at AMBA and the Business Graduates Association (BGA) said this showed the “resilience” of business schools.

“The growth in programmes offered by AMBA-accredited Schools suggests that they are able to adapt to the needs of future business leaders, providing a more open opportunity for talented individuals to progress within business management.”

This demonstration of strength in a volatile world is “encouraging” for the sector, according to Andrew Main Wilson, Chief Executive of AMBA and BGA. It corresponds with testimonies from deans from AMBA-accredited Schools, Wilson said.

“First, we know that there has been a trend towards introducing more specialist programmes to market, including those focusing on different sectors such as oil and gas, and banking and finance, along with traditional MBAs. There is also an international dimension at play, with many schools looking to expand their geographical profile and reach by delivering programmes at overseas campuses,” he explained.

The rise of flexible learning 

Classrooms are still the most popular delivery method – accounting for 82 percent of programmes – but “more adaptable” programme methods are increasing. Blended online and classroom-based programmes grew from 10 percent in 2016 to 16 percent in 2017.

Full-time programmes are also on the decline, while modular programmes – conducted through a number of intense teaching periods to suit work and family commitments – increased from 17 percent in 2016 to 21 percent in 2017. Almost three fifths (57 percent) of programmes across the globe were conducted part-time, with only a fifth (22 percent) being conducted on a full-time basis.

Diversity is also improving. On the gender front, the report found a “sizeable increase” in female representatives, who represent almost two-fifths of all applicants and enrolments (38 percent and 36 percent respectively). In 2013, the female share of enrolments and applications were only 32 and 33 percent respectively.

MBA programmes are growing slightly more international, too – almost one in three (28 percent) of enrolments were international, registering a one percent increase from 27 percent in 2016. UK programmes had the highest proportion of international applications (79 percent), followed by other European Schools (53 percent), North America and the Caribbean (47 percent).

AMBA analysed 118,378 applications and 43,280 enrolments from 230 AMBA-accredited Business Schools and 751 AMBA-accredited programmes, based across 52 countries, and that ran throughout the calendar year of 2017.

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